William Dion Boucicault

William Dion Boucicault

Dion William Boucicault was the son of the famous Irish actor and playwright Dion Boucicault. He did not live in Huntingdon but died along with 13 others in the Abbots Ripton rail disaster which occurred on 21st January 1876 on the Great Northern Railway line.

Dion (William) was travelling on the 1015 ‘Special Scotch Express’, (a forerunner to the ‘Flying Scotsman’) when the Scotsman, travelling at full speed, struck the rearmost truck of a loaded coal train which had been signalled to cross into a siding to allow the Flying Scotsman to pass. The signalman at the next signal box north was able to stop the Manchester express and this train eventually drew up behind the wreckage but south of the wreckage, the signal box didn’t receive the message until seconds after the northbound Leeds express had passed. The train did everything it could to stop but it was still travelling at some speed by the time it hit the wrecked carriages. 

Boucicault Grave in Priory Road Cemetery

It was this second collision in which most of the 13 deaths were thought to have occurred. William had survived the first crash and was trying to get out of the carriage when the second crash occurred.

William’s father, the famous dramatist Dion Boucicault funded the
restoration of what is now the Cromwell Museum in 1878 in memory of his son.

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